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The History of Hollywood: Propaganda for White Supremacy at Home and US Militarism Abroad

The History of Hollywood: Propaganda for White Supremacy at Home and US Militarism Abroad

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For more than a century American film has been one of the most important apparatus used for perpetuating American white supremacy and justifying American military adventures.

Racism in film and white supremacy are so intricately interwoven into the fabric of America that they have become virtually undetectable, much like carbon monoxide, until the deadly damage has occurred. Film is a reflection of society and society in turn is influenced by film.

Ever since the Lumiere brothers first developed film in 1896, it has been an astoundingly effective racial propaganda tool. As the first universal mass medium it efficiently utilized high drama through the fixation of emotional sequences. Put simply, effective propaganda starts precisely where critical thinking ends.

To create drama, particularly in action and war movies, Hollywood needs bad guys, and through the consistent use of racial stereotypes these enemies have included the Vietnamese during the Vietnam war, the Russians throughout the Cold War, Muslims during the ongoing War on Terror and the Japanese after Pearl Harbor.

In American film and media, during the “Yellow peril” the widespread image of the Japanese as sub-human created an emotional context which formed a justification for the nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that instantly slaughtered 140,000 innocent people, as well as the establishment of concentration camps for Japanese-Americans on US soil.

The first group in Hollywood history to have been depicted as dangerous savages is Native Americans.

The gross misrepresentation of Native Americans has been a longstanding problem for American film makers ever since the rise of 19th-century Western frontier literature, which portrayed pioneers as struggling with restless natives, without acknowledging the genocide committed by white men.

Despite vast evidence of Native American technological advances and complex civilization, Hollywood films depict native culture as a “blanket ethnicity,” thereby pigeonholing the various groups and cultures into one group defined by stereotypical tropes.

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